Jillian Morkan, owner of Legacy Handbags, on the steps to take to protect your designer handbag to maximise the resale price.
I left Nenagh at 18 and started working as Cabin Crew with Aer Lingus. I flew to New York and Los Angeles regularly and I always bought a copy of the latest Vogue to read on the bus home. I didn’t know much about fashion or style back then and I was mesmerised by the glossy photos and editorial campaigns. It was like another world, but not one that was accessible to me at that time. It marked the beginning of my obsession with bags. I have bought, sold and restored quite a few designer bags for my own collection over the years, so it was a no brainer when I decided to turn my obsession into a business.
You never forget your first designer bag. It’s such a milestone moment. I still vividly remember buying my first designer bag around 20 years ago. It was a Louis Vuitton Speedy 30, I saved up for ages to buy it and when I walked down Grafton Street wearing it, I thought I was the business. When I became a mum, I needed something more practical and hands-free so I sold it on privately. It’s a great way to unlock the equity in your wardrobe, especially if you’re no longer using the piece.
When you’re looking for a designer bag, ideally you want something that stands the test of time. Choose a bag that is unlikely to date and stick to the classics in neutral colours. As Coco Chanel said, “fashion changes, but style endures.”
When it comes to a fashion house like Chanel, the bags are more like heirlooms, as they are passed down from mother to daughter. A lot of people don’t know that Chanel and Louis Vuitton increase prices at least once a year, sometimes twice. The longer you wait to buy an investment bag, the more it will cost in the end. The price of Chanel’s Classic Flap bag 20 years ago was half what it is today. That in part is one of the reasons why the pre-loved resale market is booming. There’s also the big push for sustainability in the industry as fashion and fast fashion in particular are one of the most polluting industries in the world.
Handbag sales stalled during the initial phase of the pandemic but with lockdown easing, LVMH revenues and Chanel revenues have soared. Like-for-like sales rose 84% last quarter with LVMH for example.
In many ways, a handbag is the easiest purchase to make when shopping online: there are no sizing issues or trying on needed. A bag will always fit you and a good bag is a sound investment wardrobe staple. Resale values can be quite high but you need to know how to care for your designer purchase, in order to maximise the resale price.
Tips for maximising value to resell your designer bag
Always keep the original dust bag and box that comes with your handbag. Keep any receipts or paperwork, such as authenticity cards. Uploading the details to the Cloud, in case the paperwork should ever go missing.
Get a bag protector for the clasp so it doesn’t scratch. You can buy them online and you wouldn’t even notice them on the bag. The Louis Vuitton Pochette Metis has a lovely gold-tone clasp with an iconic S lock closure, but unfortunately, it’s notorious for scratching, and if it’s scratched it can adversely affect the resale value.
Be mindful of colour transfer. Softer leather like lambskin and paler colours are more prone to discolouration and colour transfer from anything from navy denim jeans to ballpoint pens, make-up and self-tan. Sadly, I have seen quite a few designer bags destroyed by leaky pens or lipgloss that leaked and seeped into the lining. One issue I’m seeing a lot now is damage from hand sanitiser when it comes to luxury bags. You have to be so careful with sanitiser because the main ingredients like bleach and isopropyl alcohol can seriously damage the leather.
Don’t store chain straps on top of the leather. This is especially important with the Chanel Classic Flap or the Chanel Boy Bag – named as a homage to Coco Chanel’s beau, Boy Capel. The weight of the chain strap can leave very bad indentations on softer leathers like lambskin. I recommend wrapping them separately in tissue paper.
Use a handbag liner. They are very easy to pick up online. You can get one to suit the specific model and make of your bag and they come in a variety of colours. It will extend the life of your bag, save the lining, give it structure and maximise the space inside.
If you are spending a vast sum of money on a good bag, why wouldn’t you care for it and protect it? It would be akin to buying a new Porsche and parking it under a tree!
Photography by Jason Lloyd-Evans.